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2024. April 24. News

ÖMKi coordinates the new BOOST4BIOEAST project

Boosting the bioeconomy transformation for the Central and Eastern European and Baltic countries

The Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) for the very first time coordinates a Horizon Europe project, called BOOST4BIOEAST (B4B) which officially kicked off its activities on 1 January 2024. The aim of the B4B project is to empower national stakeholders in the Central Eastern European and Baltic countries to develop national bioeconomy action plans and to build long-lasting structures and spaces of dialogue for national and macro-regional cooperation.

The project, which supports the Central and Eastern European intergovernmental BIOEAST Initiative for the next three years, held its in-person kick-off meeting between 5-6 March, in Budapest. All BIOEAST countries are represented in the consortium, but among the 30 partners, several Western European countries (Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain) also participate in the implementation in order to transfer knowledge between regions.

The project follows the footsteps of its predecessor, the BIOEASTsUP H2020 project, building upon its outcomes that laid the foundation for macro-regional networking among bioeconomy experts and policymakers through the development of its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) and 11 Bioeconomy Concept Papers.

The BIOEAST HUBs and their role in boosting bioeconomy

At the core of the project, there is the need to establish or improve national bioeconomy expert communities (BIOEAST HUBs) as focal points of capacity building and catalyst for stakeholder engagement and decision-making at national level through participatory processes. The BIOEAST HUBs will be linked to public administrations, ensuring a direct and efficient link to policymaking that highlights the relevance of the solutions identified by the HUBs’ actions. In the next three years, the HUBs will be engaged in the development of national bioeconomy action plans involving public administrations, and in fostering national bioeconomy innovation ecosystems through cross-sectoral collaboration, capacity building and facilitating access to knowledge and networks with all bioeconomy stakeholders. Furthermore, at macro-regional level, they will contribute to the specific strategic areas of the BIOEAST Thematic Working Groups (Agroecology, Bioenergy and Value-Added Materials, Food Systems, Forestry Value Chain, Freshwater based Bioeconomy, Bio-based Materials and Education) in updating the BIOEAST SRIA of 2022 (developed in the BIOEASTsUP project).

Enriching knowledge on bioeconomy with a multidimensional assessment and the Knowledge Platform

BOOST4BIOEAST will undertake a wide mapping of biomass availability, usage, bioeconomy competences, educational needs, and innovation systems with the goal of promoting knowledge on bioeconomy in the macro-region. Moreover, an online BIOEAST Knowledge Platform will be set up to act as a central point to find knowledge materials and relevant information on bioeconomy. The Platform will be open and tailor-made to the needs of BIOEAST countries, allowing wide range of its bioeconomy actors to access, share and store materials on national languages, therefore, stimulating active contributions and knowledge sharing in and across each Member State.

Stimulating bioeconomy research and innovation

Given the great importance innovation and education have in promoting and reinforcing bioeconomy activities, the project sets also the ambitious objective to bring together public and private funders with entrepreneurs and young professionals to provide exposure to business opportunities through a macro-regional Open Innovation Challenge (OIC) and pitching events. The project will also expand activities of the Network of Bioeconomy Universities in the BIOEAST (BIOEAST UniNet) to support stronger collaboration between universities and educational institutions of the macro-region in order to integrate bioeconomy into their educational profiles. Moreover, the project will continue to rely on the already mentioned, seven Thematic Working Groups, to work on priority research topics on the macro-regional level.

The Annual BIOEAST Bioeconomy Conference

To kick-start the community-building and establishment of the national expert networks, the BOOST4BIOEAST project and the BIOEAST Initiative organized the Annual BIOEAST Bioeconomy Conference on 6-7 March 2024 in Budapest with the theme “The role of national HUBs in national and macro-regional bioeconomy policies and R&I priorities in the BIOEAST countries”.

The conference was opened by Dr. András Tompos, director of Institute for Material and Environmental Chemistry of the Research Center for Natural Sciences and Dr. Adrienn Baksa, head of department for agricultural modernization of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. The keynote speaker of the conference, Dr. Barna Kovács, secretary general of the BIOEAST Initiative took stock of the Initiative’s results since 2016 and rolled out the new BIOEAST agenda for 2024 onwards explaining: “In light of the multiple crises we experience in Europe, from COVID19, the war in Ukraine to weather extremities (like unprecedented heatwaves), there is an opportunity in rethinking the role of Central Eastern European and Baltic countries, including Western Balkan to contribute to the management of this critical period in the EU. Therefore, the BIOEAST countries should take the opportunity to build up an R&I driven joint programming structure (BIOEAST Partnership) that aims to build a bridge between Eastern European countries and other parts of the EU to secure knowledge transfer for sustainable transition toward circular bioeconomies.”

Therefore, the creation and strengthening of national expert communities (BIOEAST HUBs) at the national level is an important preparatory step for the BIOEAST Partnership as they will represent national bioeconomy innovation ecosystems that support collaboration and knowledge transfer across the Partnership countries.

The conference also provided practical knowledge for the kick-start and operation of HUBs, as well as presented the financing opportunities for initiatives related to the bioeconomy.

As closure of the conference, two field trips to Hungarian biorefineries were organised to Hungrana and Pannonia Bio that represent successful case studies for the production of added value products such as bioethanol, various starch, sugar and feed products from grains.

The press release about the conference is available on the BIOEAST website.

Role of ÖMKi in the project

ÖMKi is the coordinator of the project responsible for strategic steering, general, technical, and logistical management of project implementation. Furthermore, ÖMKi leads the process of updating the BIOEAST SRIA, which defines the research and innovation priorities related to the bioeconomy of the BIOEAST macro-region, as well as the development of the national bioeconomy action plans. In addition, ÖMKi continues to co-coordinate the TWG Agroecology together with the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, therefore ensuring the realisation of TWG-related tasks and expectations defined by the project.


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